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2017 Volunteer Lawyers Program Award Winners Announced

Posted November 5, 2017
10:24 pm

Congratulations to Legal Aid's 2017 Volunteer Lawyers Program Award Winners!

Each year, the Pro Bono Committee of Legal Aid’s Board of Directors recognizes those who have made significant contributions and commitment to pro bono involvement.

The Legacy of Justice Award is presented to an individual, group or institution whose participation in pro bono efforts has been significant in terms of tenure and impact. The 2017 winner is: Frank DeSantis.

With his thoughtful demeanor, Mr. DeSantis has been the moving force throughout so much of the engagement, recruitment, and energy behind Legal Aid’s pro bono work. He has leveraged his many leadership roles to promote pro bono work — as 2015 President of Legal Aid’s Board of Directors, as Pro Bono Committee member, as the inaugural ACT 2 Advisory Committee Chair, as 2010 President of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, with The Lawyers Guild, as partner and Ethic Committee Chair at Thompson Hine, and as a leader in the community. Mr. DeSantis is an attorney whose pro bono work is woven into his professional DNA. He is both a leader and a volunteer at Legal Aid brief advice clinics and in extended representation cases. His words, influence, and reputation in the community have been critical to promoting Legal Aid’s mission. By representing what is good and noble about the legal profession, Mr. DeSantis is a role model to those at Legal Aid and to the legal community at large.

The Access to Justice Award is presented in recognition of significant contribution to advancing the mission of Legal Aid through pro bono commitment. This recognition is informed by number of hours, cases, or clinics. The 2017 awardees are:

Michael (Mike) Harvey: A solo practitioner, Mike’s expertise is expansive. His pro bono focus has been on assisting homeowners facing foreclosure. Logging 176 hours of pro bono service in the last 18 months, Mr. Harvey has assisted clients in negotiating loan modifications. When negotiations fail, he has guided clients through the end of the foreclosure process. Steadfast in his willingness to help Legal Aid clients, Mr. Harvey’s commitment advances Legal Aid’s mission.

Anna Luczkow: Fresh out of law school and before landing her job at Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, Ms. Luczkow logged an astounding 361 hours as an in-house volunteer working on Low Income Tax Clinic cases with staff attorney Dennis Dobos. Ms. Luczkow contacted clients, helped with appeals, conducted federal and state tax research, and processed tax documents. Not only was Ms. Luczkow a reliable and consistent pro bono attorney, but she also was concerned and energetic, bringing a great attitude to everything she did.

Gerald (Gerry) Meader: As a retired attorney, Mr. Meader walked in to Legal Aid in April 2016, and asked: “How can I help?” As an in-house volunteer with Legal Aid’s ACT 2 program, Mr. Meader never hesitates to take on a new project. He brings the discipline and attention to detail of his military background, along with his expertise as an attorney, to each pro bono task: legal checkups for veterans; brief advice clinics, direct representation, or community presentations.

Mark Wallach: Mr. Wallach is the go-to attorney for particularly complex pro bono cases. Mr. Wallach brings the expert litigation skills he uses for complex business disputes at Thacker Robinson Zinz to resolve issues and get great results for his pro bono clients. In the last 18 months, Mr. Wallach accepted five new cases and continues work on a sixth — all of them “problematic and difficult to place.” Mr. Wallach also gives his time as a valuable and insightful member of Legal Aid’s Pro Bono Committee and ACT 2 Advisory Committee.

The Community Impact Award is given to an individual or group who has made a mark in ensuring success for a client, client community, or project. The 2017 winners are:

Dworken & Bernstein: Associates and partners work together to create a firm culture that supports pro bono. Along with boasting 100% participation in Legal Aid’s fundraising campaign, attorneys assist at outreach clinics in Ashtabula County, Veterans’ clinics, Lake County pro se divorce clinics, and community presentations, and accept extended representation cases.

Retiring Judge Harry Field: A well-deserved retirement awaits Willoughby Municipal Court Judge Harry Field. During his time on the bench, Judge Field has supported pro bono work, most notably by welcoming more than 100 attorneys into his courtroom year after year for Legal Aid’s CLE “Judicial Forum” held during Pro Bono Week. Judge Field leaves a lasting legacy, having built a culture of valuing pro bono involvement among attorneys and judges.


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